In these paintings I have searched for connections between the Gardens and some of the history of Athelhampton. As such, the shapes and forms employed by Inigo Thomas have taken on new meanings and relationships with one another.

In the painting Stone Crown Elegy the Jacobean inspired shapes of the Corona Garden merge with the format of a historical, coded letter to draw attention to the fate of Chidiock Tichbourne. The paintings de Lafontaine’s Fountain: I-III reflect the shape of the Great Court’s central pond and investigate this gentleman’s enigmatic identity. 

Image : Stone Crown Elegy, installation view

The Lion’s Mouth garden finds itself the centrepiece of 
Tresco Lion, a painting relating to 15th century armour and the tales of Hercules. The pyramidal forms frequently found in the Gardens are angled in a selection of artworks so as to reach beyond the estate’s integration. Referencing the Martyn effigies at Puddletown, the Pyramidal Pilgrim artworks are on display in the Kitchen Garden Glasshouse. Reminiscent of ancient Egyptian tombs, Mayan and Cambodian Temples and the Argolis Pyramids of Greece, these artworks are also linked to paintings by Marevna and the prose of Thomas Hardy, a good friend of de Lafontaine, and whose initials can be found on the lintel of the culver dovecote.

I have not tried to rewrite history in these paintings but to find a thread of connectivity running between the present and this ‘Seated Old Relic’. This thread has undoubtedly crossed over many paths and this is perhaps the very value of abstract painting. Unlike a photograph which captures a singular moment in time, an abstract painting enables many connections to be made within a storyline. It offers a chance to hold onto a moment from the past in a physically tangible way whilst referencing topical concerns of the world of today. We come, often on holiday - enjoying our free time - to view historical homes and all their mystery and majesty. The tradition of painting is malleable enough to interpret these histories in the context of today’s myriad concerns; from climate change, the ecological crisis, the destruction of Nature, the often frightening effects of mass-consumption, exponential population growth, disease and war to the fictitious dangers and paradoxical benefits of our Digital Age. Indeed, the storyline of the Martyns has not ended with their departure from Athelhampton, but provides the very backdrop of historical house and garden.

As Long As You're Looking Good and Our Sweet Guardian Angel

The unique opportunity of being able to exhibit these paintings upon the very walls which provided their inspiration - whether it be a person, a stained glass window or the feeling of a restless spirit - adds to this thread of connectivity. When I first visited Athelhampton I knew it was a house still breathing, still living, as much alive inside as the Gardens are outside. I think it is only through paint that this can be celebrated and communicated.  Even if not all aspects of the estate’s history and previous residents are known today, painting lends itself very well in the search to discover those questions which may not have full or complete answers. The estate does not always reveal its true self and it is through this withheld, or unrequited gift, that so many continue to find delight and enjoyment in visiting Athelhampton House and Gardens.

Under the Cedar Tree installation view


July 2022

Under the Cedar Tree installation, Athelhampton Studies I - V


My recent work has been inspired by my travels to various sites containing the ruins of ancient civilisations. My visits to the ancient Greek city on the island of Delos, in Greece, the Mayan Temples of the Yucatan in Mexico and to Empuries in Catalonia, Spain, have inspired my work and concepts. These sites are still in the process of being recovered and many fascinating artefacts continue to be  unearthed. However, the exact function of many of these handmade objects remains unknown. It often seems that we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about some of these mysterious relics and the people who made them.

Image: Spring Exhibition installation, 2019 

I was fortunate to visit the 'Josef Albers in Mexico' Exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum last year.  Albers’ compelling works, many of which were influenced by the then-recently discovered Mayan Temples, are a testament to his sense of adventure by travelling into the unknown and to his fascination with the remains of an ancient civilisation. The hand-built Mayan Temples, often great in size and partially buried in the tangle of prehistoric jungle, are made up of thousands of carved stones. The remains of dwellings in sites such as Delos and Empuries show evidence of embellishment of colorful mosaics and elegant frescoes. These ancient stone walls of interlocking components are archaeological traces of human endeavour and civilisation. We can only imagine the sophistication, skill and resourcefulness of the people who once lived there.

Alber’s investigations into colour theory and geometry have laid the foundation for many of my paintings. In my work I have attempted to evoke the essence of the sometimes overlooked places I have experienced during my adventures, simultaneously wondering how our own times might be viewed by future generations. 

March 2019